Press Release
September 5, 2017

Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on Sen. Vicente Sotto III's stance on calls for her release
Dispatch from Crame No. 150

Senator Sotto justifies his indifference to my plight by saying that Senators belonging to the minority did not then support those Senators who were jailed for their involvement in the PDAF Scam.

I cannot begrudge my colleague his opinion. To him, the PDAF Scam Senators - Estrada, Revilla, and Enrile - are innocent, despite the documentary and testimonial evidence upheld by the independent Ombudsman as sufficient to charge them before the Sandiganbayan. He also thinks I am guilty, despite the fact that all charges against me are fabricated and a product of the President's vindictiveness.

I cannot begrudge Senator Sotto his failure to appreciate the distinction between the hard evidence raised against the PDAF Scam Senators and the fake evidence manufactured to persecute me. After all, he is not a lawyer. Perhaps, I'm too naïve to expect any sympathy from the Majority Leader.

Still, I hope that my fellow senators will take the extra effort to study the cases against me and consult with experts in criminal law to appreciate whether the government's charges are credible or not.

Several international organizations, including the European Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Asian Parliamentarians for Human Rights and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, have all gone out of their way to inquire and inform themselves of the charges against me, only to arrive at the conclusion that the government's charges are, at the very least, dubious or questionable, and its motivations for filing those charges are highly suspect.

I am confident that sincere efforts on my colleagues' part to learn about the cases against me will lead them to arrive at the same conclusion. After all, all my actions from the very start are not the actions of a guilty person.

I did not run away from the legal process and the justice system even when it was easy for me to seek political asylum. I did not escape to a foreign country to evade arrest and avoid indefinite detention for non-bailable, false charges.

My clean conscience strengthened my resolve to remain in the country and confront my persecutors in the belief that, in the end, only the guilty flee, but the innocent face justice with conviction towards their vindication.

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